Wednesday's action-packed slate features 11 games, which means plenty of League Pass potential across the league.
Perhaps the most exciting game tips off in Oklahoma City as the Thunder play host to the Portland Trail Blazers at 8:00 p.m. ET. It's a rematch of their riveting 1st Round series from last year's playoffs when Damian Lillard hit a dagger from WAY beyond the arc at the buzzer to clinch the series.
This is their first meeting since that game and even though Russell Westbrook and Paul George are no longer in the mix, there's plenty of opportunity for fireworks.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's early tests continue
The uber-talented second-year guard is being thrown into the proverbial fire right out of the gates in his sophomore season. While there are never any easy nights in the NBA, SGA's opening slate has featured competition against some of the best guards in the game.
After opening the season on the road against Utah's new duo of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, he made his home debut against Bradley Beal. Following that came a back-to-back against Stephen Curry and Houston's dynamic tag-team of James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Now OKC welcomes into town Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who are playing their fourth straight game on the road and their third game in four days.
|Oct. 23||vs Mitchell/Conley||26 Pts, 10-23 FG, 1 Ast, 1 TO|
|Oct. 25||vs Bradley Beal||28 Pts, 10-17 FG, 4 Ast, 2 Stls, 3 Blks|
|Oct. 27||vs Stephen Curry||19 Pts, 8-14 FG, 9 Reb, 4 Ast|
|Oct. 28||vs Harden/Westbrook||22 Pts, 8-21 FG, 9 Reb, 4 Ast|
It's early, but all indications point towards a sooner-than-expected star turn for the Thunder's future building block. Through four games, Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 23.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting with the team performing nearly 15 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than on the bench.
Don't sleep on Damian Lillard
When it comes to the bigger picture, nobody is sleeping on Damian Lillard.
However ... when it comes to scanning across the league's landscape to give hot starts their due, it's possible to let the eyes skip over Lillard.
Karl-Anthony Towns is on a tear. Kyrie Irving is lighting baskets on fire. Trae Young has been a revelation. Anthony Davis looks unstoppable. Pascal Siakam and Brandon Ingram have made head-turning progress.
And then there's Lillard, quietly third in the NBA in scoring at 30.8 points per game despite still waiting for his 3-pointer to start consistently dropping.
In a wide open year when it comes not only to figuring out who will win the title but also who will take home individual hardware, Lillard is certainly in the MVP conversation. Outside of perhaps Davis, Lillard is far more proven and likely to keep up with his early pace as the season wears on than any of the aforementioned names. Which means a month or two from now, don't fall for the narrative that Lillard has somehow come on strong and taken it up another notch.
He's taking it up another notch right from the jump and deserves more attention than he's received for his strong start out of the gates.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.